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Subject: Making changes to the hero decks - their size/composition and what to discard/draw? rss

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Scott Silsbe
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First note that I'm still pretty new to the game and haven't played all of the heroes.

So far I've found that a few cards in each deck that I've never played or that I've played maybe once or twice over many sessions.

And given how heroes may play only 1-2 cards in a single round, it's not difficult to basically ignore many weaker or situational cards. It's effectively as though these underperforming cards are simply not part of the deck at all.

This results in fewer interesting choices - choosing between 2 cards instead of 3 or 4, but more shuffling, cycling, drawing, and discarding.

Questions:

Have I just not played enough of the game to realize the utility of some of these cards?

Are there cards in certain hero decks that are widely recognized as underpowered/useless?

Has anyone considered trimming down the decks or even exchanging some of the weaker cards with better / more interesting advanced cards - perhaps reducing the default hand size or adding in some other caveat to mitigate the power increase?
 
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Stevie P
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Personally I think the base hero decks play really well. Sometimes you have a card you don't need like a remove curse, cure poison, or the NCA bonus card, but man when you need them you are doing all you can do to cycle your deck. I have played many hours and granted I only have the base heroes and the hunter which I just got and haven't played that one, but I usually come away from the game amazed at how well the hero decks work. I come back to it more often than any other game.

That all being said experiment with what makes you happy with the game. I would recommend getting some time under your belt as is and then modify. try to set up a quest where you know you are going to need those underused cards so you can see how they play.
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Michelle
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Swapping out a card for one of the advanced cards is what you'd be given the option to do when you level up. I think it'd be fine to do that now if you're impatient to see a change.

That said, I personally haven't felt like there are any terrible cards in the decks I've played. If you're not fighting an enemy with poison or courage tests or curse, those cards won't get played, but other than that I feel like all the cards get played at some point in the game.

I definitely wouldn't ever reduce the default hand size. That'll just cripple the decision-making even further. If anything, I think increasing the hand size by 1 opens up the situational cards more.
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DrProfHazzmatt
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As has already been mentioned, card swapping is your reward for completing modules or completing an act (play session). So I definitely wouldn't do that baseline as that's part of the leveling up process of the game.

I also wouldn't thin the deck as that will cause a massive power spike that is going to be very hard to control. Reducing hand size doesn't really mitigate this, it just leaves each player at the mercy of luck even moreso than we already are as we need to hope then that we get something useful.

The intention of the base deck is to give you a little bit of everything that your class can do. Then, as you level up, you are able to swap out cards you don't want for cards that you DO want to turn the deck into a more focused machine that does exactly what you want it to do.

And to an extent you're probably right that you probably haven't played enough to see a use for some cards. I've played the acolyte a fair amount so far and I still feel that the pray cards, probably one of the more iconic cards in the acolyte deck, aren't all that useful. By the time I end up wanting to use them it's way late into my deck and I get a dead draw from it. But it might also be that I just haven't had enough practice to find the right time to do it. So it might just take some more plays.

Ultimately I'd make sure you record your play sessions to get those card swaps for completing adventure sessions/modules.

(If I'm wrong about getting card swaps for adventure sessions, someone please correct me.)
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Judy Krauss
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I think it's quite possible that you haven't realized the usefulness of some of the cards, yet, and especially how playing 3 or 4 cards can done effectively (although, watch your Threat level!) and even how the cards can affect other cards for that hero (or even other heroes).

Some cards reduce threat, some heal vitality or cure status effects, some add dice or damage to attacks, some reduce AP costs, some let you dodge attacks -- not everything needs to be an attack of some sort to be effective.

Also, it will likely depend on your play style for which cards you choose to use the most.

I suspect that as you play longer, you will find opportunities to use those cards that you now feel are week, and probably discover that they can be used in ways and situations that hadn't occurred to you before.
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Josh Derksen
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Jude wrote:

I suspect that as you play longer, you will find opportunities to use those cards that you now feel are week, and probably discover that they can be used in ways and situations that hadn't occurred to you before.


This is definitely true.

On the other hand, I actually struggle with choosing between the Green flame hero cards for some heroes. I am rather at a loss for what to do with the Soldier, beyond swapping for Battle Joy. All of that hero's advanced cards seem lackluster or heavily combo-driven compared to the core deck.
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David Griffin
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breegull wrote:
Swapping out a card for one of the advanced cards is what you'd be given the option to do when you level up. I think it'd be fine to do that now if you're impatient to see a change.

That said, I personally haven't felt like there are any terrible cards in the decks I've played. If you're not fighting an enemy with poison or courage tests or curse, those cards won't get played, but other than that I feel like all the cards get played at some point in the game.

I definitely wouldn't ever reduce the default hand size. That'll just cripple the decision-making even further. If anything, I think increasing the hand size by 1 opens up the situational cards more.


I'm doing that at the moment, trying to evaluate what the group feels like at higher levels (advanced cards and titles). In a lot of cases the advanced cards are OK, but not light years better. They often are the identical card with 1 fewer AP or 1 more range (which is great but not world changing). Sometimes they are really important (like the Spriggan's summoning of the elder tree).

So far, with a normal team, the advanced cards seem to help a bit (maybe 5%) and the titles more so (6 cards is really nice). But I suspect both would pale to my previous game where I played enough tiles to end up with a LOT of green and blue gear. THAT game really seemed to produce the greatest quantum leap in performance.

I've always been interested in RPGs how some games let you enhance the person and some let you enhance the equipment, and some do both. It is often the case that the equipment has the majority share.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that this game was never meant to be a "persistent" experience over several adventures. By gathering loot over a bunch of tiles (even free form/adventure mode tiles) you gain a lot more power than you will feel by gaining the advancements. The downside is having to play for quite a while to reach that point EVERY TIME. But that is what board games are like, right? It's not really a RPG even if it kind of looks like one.

The treasure bag upgrades are pretty clever really and are available to almost any player playing in almost any way. Upgrade it enough and suddenly that ramp up tile gets reduced quite a bit.

I also keep having the feeling that the titles are not so much a reward to a character or group. It's the player who wins the titles and all it does is shorten the ramp to high powered play by a tiny but important bit.

An interesting thought experiment might be to think about what it might be like for a player to go through the blue and green treasure decks and just pick equipment for the characters (or perhaps 2 pieces). Then limit the treasure on a tile to 1 piece. How would the game change?

Well, all the work at trying to pick up a piece of treasure is mostly gone (and I admit that's an interesting challenge). But you are more of a known quantity. You're pretty powerful from the start and it becomes more of a tactical game with known parameters. No ramp up really, your hero has nice gear from the beginning of the game. Would this be more fun or less fun? The answer is probably less, but a RPG is better off limiting the treasure and letting the players keep it IMHO. People don't like getting things they feel like they have hard won taken away. The game might not be a RPG but it's an awfully fun board game.

Feel free to tear my conclusions or speculations to pieces. I'm pretty new to the game and trying to learn.
 
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Michelle
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OP, out of curiosity, what heroes have you played as so far, that you're seeing these problems?

Just to give you an idea from a fairly experienced player, my impressions of the heroes we've played have been as follows:

--The soldier seems like they always have something to do, and combos to combo.
--The apprentice seems to usually have things to do, even if it's just the decision to keep up/clear various ongoing effects that are really helping the party.
--The archer has times with no good cards/no arrows, which can be rough, but usually ends up pulling off several badass combos by the end. Having at least a green quiver is KEY, and if it's the archer your frustrated with, I'd recommend just giving them the better quiver right off the bat. Also, I let the archer mulligan once at the beginning of the game if they start off with no arrows in hand.
--The acolyte in our group often seems to have the least to do. We rarely need healing, and she does seem to have a hard time getting really cool combos together. If you're frustrated with the acolyte, I recommend that you give them the +1 hand size title immediately, or go ahead and swap out a card if you think that will help. (Or, maybe just play as a different character because the playstyle might not be your thing)
--The brigand isn't in our party currently, but when I've played him, he's been your standard rogue character, hiding in the shadows doing rather little, until he has a huge impressive backstab to pull off at the right moment.
--The spriggan only gets played if the acolyte can't make it to a session, but when I've played it, it's always been a fairly useful character with decent decisions to be made, particularly around growing its gear.

Overall, I think the single most immediate upgrade you can make (for any character that is eligible for that title) is the +1 hand size title. I let all my players choose whichever title they wanted, the first time we leveled up, and everyone who could do so chose the hand size upgrade. It's made things a lot more enjoyable to have expanded options for card play.
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Judy Krauss
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Michelle, this just goes to show how different people play the heroes differently.

IMHO, the Acolyte is the best character to play, and it seems she/he always has something to do, even when not healing or clearing status effects.

For example, the Acolyte's hand usually contains one or more of the following cards:

Buffs for herself and others: Righteous Fury - +1 damage, Feet of the Saints - lowers AP cost of everyone's Attack Actions, Blessings of the Dawn - + Fate Dice, Armor of Faith - nearby enemies have less chance to hit, Guardian Angel - rerolls of successful attacks against one target, Intercession - +1 to NCA and Courage to one Hero, Stand Fast - all Heroes get Courage bonus and 1d10 to Attack Actions.

Attacks: 2x Last Rites - an area attack with decent range, Angelic Word - ranged and does 2 or 3 damage, 2x Consuming Fire - ranged plus does DoT (damage over time), and Smite can be used as a Reaction card for a melee attack in addition to another card played as an Action.

And she automatically has at least 1 Faith, and many of the cards add another Faith (plus Pray has a chance of adding more), which often extends or enhances her played cards. Plus, she has 2x Sprint and a Hustle Movement cards.
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Michelle
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Very interesting! I admittedly have never played the acolyte myself, so it's entirely possible that my brain glosses over the buffs our acolyte is playing. I wonder if the difference in my perception between the acolyte's and apprentice's effects is that the apprentice gets to keep their spells on the board for more than a turn, so I'm more likely to benefit from them when I've finally got my archer's cards all lined up for a sweet combo.

I'll have to ask our acolyte player whether she feels like she has a lack of options, or if I'm just projecting. (I am *so* not cut out to play support-type characters!)
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Scott Silsbe
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So far I've played a bunch of sessions (solo) with the Soldier, Acolyte, and Apprentice.

The consensus seems to be that I just haven't played enough to see all of the cards' potential. So I'll just continue without any variant rules for now.

Anyway, thanks for all of the responses!
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David Griffin
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breegull wrote:
OP, out of curiosity, what heroes have you played as so far, that you're seeing these problems?

Just to give you an idea from a fairly experienced player, my impressions of the heroes we've played have been as follows:

--The soldier seems like they always have something to do, and combos to combo.
--The apprentice seems to usually have things to do, even if it's just the decision to keep up/clear various ongoing effects that are really helping the party.
--The archer has times with no good cards/no arrows, which can be rough, but usually ends up pulling off several badass combos by the end. Having at least a green quiver is KEY, and if it's the archer your frustrated with, I'd recommend just giving them the better quiver right off the bat. Also, I let the archer mulligan once at the beginning of the game if they start off with no arrows in hand.
--The acolyte in our group often seems to have the least to do. We rarely need healing, and she does seem to have a hard time getting really cool combos together. If you're frustrated with the acolyte, I recommend that you give them the +1 hand size title immediately, or go ahead and swap out a card if you think that will help. (Or, maybe just play as a different character because the playstyle might not be your thing)
--The brigand isn't in our party currently, but when I've played him, he's been your standard rogue character, hiding in the shadows doing rather little, until he has a huge impressive backstab to pull off at the right moment.
--The spriggan only gets played if the acolyte can't make it to a session, but when I've played it, it's always been a fairly useful character with decent decisions to be made, particularly around growing its gear.

Overall, I think the single most immediate upgrade you can make (for any character that is eligible for that title) is the +1 hand size title. I let all my players choose whichever title they wanted, the first time we leveled up, and everyone who could do so chose the hand size upgrade. It's made things a lot more enjoyable to have expanded options for card play.


Your characterizations are pretty good here. Soldier is straightforward, controls his rage without needing to wait for cards, has lots of attacks, and usually has something he can kill. He even thrives on threat to a point anyway.

The Apprentice has some pretty good attacks, but usually is the guy running two ongoing buffs which limits his new actions.

The Archer DOES have to sit out some turns but his whole deck is keyed to get those ammo cards up and ready or use them in the action spaces or get them from the discard deck, etc. And Orion's Tears is epically versatile. So you need patience but not ENORMOUS patience.

The Acolyte is the one indispensable character. He can hit hard up close, he has decent ranged attacks, and he can heal and remove conditions. Without him you have really no good strategies except maybe the spriggan possibly in combination with the Brigand.

The Brigand in many ways needs MORE patience than the Archer. Especially with that cautious move stuff in shadows. But if you have a trap, it's awfully good to have a Brigand (with some equipment) or a Trickster and you have to have the patience of Job to play the Trickster. When he has good thieves tools, the Brigand can go into shadows and move around the tile deactivating traps without getting hit usually and that is valuable, or he can sneak up and assassinate someone.

The Spriggan is cool, but it's a more passive character with indirect/summon attacks. Neat that he makes nearly all his equipment. He really NEEDS some card advancement because he needs the elder tree and the blue gear if possible.

Then there are the Skald, Trickster, and Hunter.

The Skald is a near total support character (though she does have 2 attacks, 1 minion attack and 1 captain attack neither of which needs a die roll). Not a good combat character in general and has to play all the songs at once AND needs a decent instrument. But she's really the first board control character, constantly buffing the players and de-buffing the monsters (though not at the same time). Tough to play.

The Trickster starts out with totally inadequate equipment with which he's very very hard to play. He can only keep one part readied (similar to readying arrows but the Archer can ready 3+) and has to somehow get most of the stuff for whatever he's building into his hand. Then he has to successfully build the part and THEN employ it. You get heartbreaking experiences where you spend whole turns (plural) reading a build and miss the roll and lose everything. Not my cup of tea but the built items can be powerful (but more powerful than the big attacks of other folks? not at all sure).

The Hunter has NO starting equipment (so several folks here including me have built starting equipment) but even so it's not good enough. This character tries to be a melee and a ranged character and isn't good at either. To have any chance at all, you need to start this character out with a decent green crossbow and a good green off-hand dual wield weapon. Even then the player will be hard pressed to pull his weight. You can't have LOTS of ammo cards in the deck, lots of melee attacks, AND lots of interrupt cards (for off hand attack) in the deck simultaneously. You can contribute to the team, but really as a junior member. Maybe I'd change my mind if I saw the Megacon folks play this in a skilled way?

Except for the poison issues, all kinds of team combos can work, but some are harder and require lots of patience and finesse. I think 4 players is a sweet spot for size. All the main characters that come in the box can pull their own weight. The others are fringe characters but fun ones (though like I said I think the trickster and the hunter need green equipment FROM THE START, not as part of treasure pickup).
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